We are sailing, We are sailing....

Trip Start Jul 16, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

So the day has come that we have been concerned about for the last few months, the crossing of the East China Sea. Having scoured the internet for a shipping forecast, I drew a blank because seemingly I am too retarded to know what it says, with our Chinese visa about to expire there is no going back now, it is time to set sail.

Getting to the harbour, it almost feels like we have already left China, there are no massive crowds of people pushing and shoving and shouting, it is quiet, serene and pretty empty.  Thankfully we see a few other westerners loitering looking nervous so it feels good to know we are not alone in our madness.  We head to the ticket counter and before we know it we are paid up and checked in.  it was a little worrying to see just 42 names on the list on a boat with a capacity of 250, does everyone know something that we don't?  Next stop passport control and we are out of the country and officially in no mans land until we arrive in Japan.  One short bus ride from the terminal and we are on the boat and relaxing in our little room. We opted for the luxury of a private room on the boat as we figured if it is rough an ensuite bathroom is essential, and the cheapest option on the boat was a mat on the floor in his (40 people) and her (18 people) rooms so we definitely didn’t fancy that.  Our cabin was like a luxury hotel, TV, kettle, sofa, the bathroom even had a bath!  After getting settled we headed out onto the deck to watch Shanghai go by as we left.  As we got onto the deck the only other 3 people watching Shanghai go by were the only 3 Westerners on the boat, Lauren from London, Simon from South Africa and Meiji from France.

Lauren and Meiji have come the same route as us, overland via the Transiberian express with a stop off in Mongolia and Simon has been travelling around China for a month, so we had a good chat with everyone comparing stories and places visited.  It was nice to have other people to speak to.

Typically the clear skies that we had had during our stay in Shanghai were gone and we were watching the city already hidden in fog disappear into the distance.  The Huangpu Creek was longer than we thought and it took about 3 hours before we finally hit open water.  This is where we all wished that the Huangpu Creek stretched the entire route to Japan. The rocking started and we all decided that a lie down in our respective rooms was needed so we bid everyone a fond farewell and retreated to our rooms in the hope that by dinner time the sea would calm down.  So our first afternoon was spent lying on our beds watching the curtain swing 2 feet from the wall and back, sea sick tablets at the ready and bands on.  We both fell asleep and woke up at about 6 ready to try to venture down stairs for some dinner.  My problem with boats is that walking around makes me feel sick so I braced myself and made it down stairs.  Simon and Meiji were both sat outside the restaurant with the same look of concern that we had, this was going to be a long 48 hours.  Seemingly the boys were faring better than the girls as Lauren and I were knocking back the sea sick tablets and the boys were knocking back the beers.  After dinner it was just Tim, Simon and me still standing and the sound of karaoke called us…. Well it called the boys, I was still there as I had not built up the courage to make it back to the cabin.  The boys were happily knocking back the beers and picking karaoke songs having the best time ever.  Eventually at about 9.30, I braved the walk leaving Tim singing American Pie with Simon and collapsed on my bed watching tv on my Iphone.  Tim rolled in at 1:30 and I knew it was not going to be pretty the next day.  Tim’s hangovers leave him incapacitated on dry land, on a rocky boat in the East China Sea is not a good place for Tim to have a hangover!

I woke up at about 7:30 to the sound of Tim running to the bathroom, I follow behind with a chair and a glass of water and then retreat to cover my ears.  "Sea sickness" apparently!! Yeah right, I think they call this the hangover from hell.  The next day the sea had calmed down considerably and I had found my sea legs so I went off taking photos of the sea in the hope of seeing some flying fish (every blog about this boat trip everyone saw flying fish), not even a cod made an appearance!

Tim eventually managed to get up and dressed in time for dinner, funnily enough he didn’t have a beer :o)  As usual the Western crew were the only ones out and about on the boat, the other 40 people barely seemed to leave their cabins, so we had a much more enjoyable dinner than the first night but still had early nights ready for our early arrival in Osaka.  By now we could see Japan out of the window and it was nice that the channel we were in was calming the sea nicely.  If only the boat arrived in Japan at lunchtime this could have been a fun night with sake, karaoke and wii, but sadly it wasn’t to be.

The next morning after a nice relaxed sleep in a much calmer sea and we make it for the free breakfast, such an odd combination, ham, half a tinned peach, a red bean dumpling, a meat dumpling and a cup of coffee.  Can’t complain for free though.  When we boarded the boat we were given a boarding pass and attached to the back was a “temperature card” with a number on it.  We were all ushered down to the reception of the boat and made to line up in order of the numbers on our temperature cards. Next a few important looking people with SAR’s masks boarded the boat and took everyone’s temperature with a little gadget that they zapped your forehead with.  Too hot and you are refused entry, yikes. Seemingly we all passed.

Off the boat and through passport control and we are stamped into Japan with a 90 day visa.  We can barely afford 3 weeks so don’t think we will be needing 3 months.  Next is the customs check, we all get through without a search except Simon, he obviously looks like the dodgy one amongst us.  After making him empty his bag, the customs officer had one more question “have you got any ganga?” ha ha too funny, where would it be if it wasn’t in his bag that just got searched!!

Thankfully the boat provides a free shuttle bus to the metro so we bundled on with our luggage and headed to the metro.  Here we stood as 5 bemused westerners pressing buttons and looking generally confused as to how to buy a ticket.  Thankfully Lauren sought out the help of the ticket man and we were then experts at working the ticket machine.  Luckily this was the start if the metro line so we had an empty train to ferry us into Osaka, as we went we all went our separate ways and bid some fond farewells.  Hopefully we will all see each other again as you have to have something in common to be on that boat in November. 

Konichiwa Japan, it is very nice to meet you….. let the Japanese adventure begin.
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